On Meet the Press this morning, Senator Chuck Schumer was pushed to explain Democratic budget plans for the coming year, and his openness to a short-term debt-ceiling extension that would force Democrats to present a budget. He did express approval of Republicans’ shift on the issue, but warned that Democrats were still unhappy with a short-term deal, preferring the “McConnell option,” which would effectively give the president the unilateral power to raise the debt ceiling.
But regarding the requirement to produce a Senate budget, Schumer tried to play down any concerns, saying, “Democrats have always intended to do a budget this year.” He asserted that 2013 is different than the previous three years, in which the Senate has not passed a budget, because the Budget Control Act of 2011 provided a frame for government spending. Schumer explained that, “in effect, it expires this year,” (it will be replaced by sequestration) “so we need a budget.” Technically speaking, the BCA did count as a Senate budget, authorizing approximate spending levels for two years, but it of course is not the same thing as Democrats actually setting out and authorizing their spending priorities. The best way to know Democrats don’t consider it their budget? Schumer explained this morning that “it put in rigid spending cuts . . . [so] we didn’t really like it.” I wouldn’t call that a Senate Democratic budget. Lastly, of course, the Senate passed no budget for FY 2011. Long before the BCA was passed in July of 2011, Senate Democratic leadership blew past the September 2010 budgetary deadline for funding government in the next year.
But fear not, Schumer was adamant that the Senate will pass a budget this year, and it’s going to raise taxes. Schumer explained “it’s a great opportunity to get us more revenues.” He continued, “in a budget that we will pass, it will have tax reform,” something he noted “many of my Republican colleagues like,” though which perhaps they will like a lot less when they find out that it has been defined to “include revenues.” Schumer suggested that increased revenue from loophole-closing reform “will help deal with sequestration,” suggesting that the Senate will propose replacing those across-the-board spending cuts with deficit reduction that comes from both cuts elsewhere and from tax increases. To sum up, Schumer had this to say: “We’re gonna do a budget this year, and it’s gonna have revenues in it, and our Republican colleagues better get used to that.”
On This Week, David Plouffe echoed Schumer’s feeling that “we’re going to need more revenues,” agreeing that Democrats and the White House would seek further tax increases. He explained that “we’ve dealt with the rate issue,” but explained that they would then move on to propose more revenue though closing “loopholes,” suggesting that this kind of reform would help the economy.